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Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-1-8

Topic 8 - Brahman though destitute of material and instruments is yet the cause of the world

Sutra 2,1.24

उपसंहारदर्शनान्नेति चेत्, न, क्षीरवद्धि ॥ २४ ॥

upasaṃhāradarśanānneti cet, na, kṣīravaddhi || 24 ||

upasaṃhāra-darśanāt—Because collection of accessories is seen; na—not; iti cet—if it be said; na—not; kṣīravat—like milk; hi—since.

24. If it be said (that Brahman without extraneous aids) cannot (be the cause of the world) because (an agent) is seen to collect materials (for any construction), (we say) no, since (it is) like milk (turning into curds).

A fresh objection is raised against Brahman being the cause of the world.

There is nothing extraneous to Brahman to help in the work of creation, for there is nothing besides Brahman. Brahman is one without a second and so free from all differentiations internal or external.

It is ordinarily seen that one who creates something, the potter, for example, uses extraneous aids like the wheel, clay, etc.

But Brahman, being one without a second, has not these accessories and so is not the Creator.

The Sutra refutes this objection by showing that such a thing is possible even as milk turns into curds without the help of any extraneous thing.

If it be urged that even in this case heat or some such thing starts curdling, we say it only accelerates the process, but the curdling takes place through the inherent capacity of the milk. One cannot turn water into curds by the application of heat!

But Brahman being infinite, no such aid is necessary for It to produce this world.

That It is of infinite power is testified by such Śrutis as the following:

There is no effect and no instrument known of Him, no one is seen like unto Him or better. His high power is revealed as manifold and inherent, acting as force and knowledge.” (Svet. 6. 8).

 Sutra 2,1.25

देवादिवदपि लोके ॥ २५ ॥

devādivadapi loke || 25 ||

devādivat—Like gods and others; api—even; loke—in the world.

25. (The case of Brahman creating the world is) even like the gods and other beings in the world.

It may be objected that the example of milk turning into curds is not in point, since it is an inanimate substance. One never sees a conscious being, a potter, for instance, turning out things without the help of external aids.

This Sutra refutes that objection by giving an example of creation by a conscious agent without any extraneous help.

Even as gods, in the sacred books, are seen to create without extraneous means simply through their inherent power, so also the Lord through His infinite power of Māyā is able to create this world of diversity.

The examples cited above show that it is not necessary that creation be limited by the conditions observed in the creation of pots. They are not universal.